The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team (21-11 overall, 14-8 PSAC) ended its season Sunday with a loss to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (29-6 overall, 17-5 PSAC) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
After losing at halftime, IUP turned the game around and defeated the Rock 73-65.
SRU went into halftime with a 36-33 lead, but then allowed IUP to outscore them 40-29 in the second half.
“We knew we hadn’t lost a game all year leading at the half, so we felt confident,” SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds said. “They made plays and we missed shots we normally make.”
IUP took the lead with 7:57 left to play and never allowed the Rock to regain control.
“They made some timely shots and their players made some very good plays,” Reynolds said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way a few times and if it had, we would’ve had a better chance.”
Free-throws decided this game. IUP shot 14 more free-throws than SRU, shooting 89.7 percent (26-29) to SRU’s 60 percent (9-15).
“The difference was the amount of free-throws they took,” Reynolds said. “They’re one of the best free-throw shooting teams. We did a good job of chasing them off of the three point line, but they made a lot of free-throws.”
One positive for the Green and White was the rebounding differential. As the number one rebounding team in the nation, the Rock out-rebounded IUP 35-24.
Neither team assisted in double-digits, with SRU at six assists and IUP at eight assists.
The Green and White’s offense was spread out among four players, including junior guard Malcolm Richardson, senior forward Frank Holloway, senior guard Antonio Butler and sophomore forward Chaquille Pratt.
Richardson led all Rock scorers with 22 points (10-14) to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Holloway and Butler chipped in 12 and 10 points respectively, and Pratt finished with nine points (4-6) and seven rebounds.
IUP had four scorers in double-digits, including Shawn Dyer, Devante Chance, Brandon Norfleet and Daddy Ugbede. Dyer scored a game-high 23 points (6-10) to go along with three rebounds and one assist. Chance scored 16 points (4-10) and had four rebounds and four assists. Norfleet and Ugbede had 12 and 11 points respectively.
As a team, SRU shot 43.1 percent (25-58) from the field and IUP shot 52.4 percent (22-42) from the field.
The Rock finished this season with one more win than they had in the 2013-2014 campaign.
Reynolds said he is proud of his team and what they accomplished this season.
“In the last five years, we’ve been to postseason four times and we’ve won 20 games four times, not many teams in Division II can say that,” Reynolds said. “Obviously the program is where we want it, we just need to make the next step. We’re proud of that and now, in the off-season, we need to improve, and as coaches we need to recruit well. We’ve always had good players and good guys that are good on the court and off the court.”